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Welcoming a new dog into their home is an unforgettable moment for all pet parents.
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But with the fun times and adorable antics a fur pal brings, comes added responsibilities to feed, house, and care for this four-legged family member. At the heart of any successful wellness program for a new pet is a grooming routine customized to the dog's age, breed, coat, and hair length.
While some pet parents turn to professional dog groomers for help, the truth is most of this work can be done by yourself at home. And even if you do prefer outside assistance, you should still put together a home dog grooming kit for spot care or emergencies (like when your toddler decides to smear peanut butter — OR WORSE — all over Fido's curly locks).
If you're a first-time pet parent and you're feeling nervous or overwhelmed by this burden, don't fret because we are here to help you sort out the essential, must-have dog grooming tools from the products that overpromise and underdeliver.
Because having the right dog grooming tools can mean the difference between having a head start or a headache, the checklist below rounds up the best shampoos, brushes, nail clippers, and toothbrushes that will keep your pup looking — and feeling — their best both now and in the years to come.
The Best Dog Grooming Products For Cleaning & Bath Time
Some dogs love baths; some activate zoomie mode at the sound of the faucet running.
Regardless of where your pup falls on this spectrum, vets agree: baths are necessary for your dog to stay clean and catch any skin deformities or coat ailments like excessive shedding before they escalate into something more serious. (That said, you don't want to over bathe a dog because this can lead to dry skin and dogs need a certain amount of natural oils to maintain a healthy, shiny coat).
Here are the best-reviewed dog grooming items you'll need to make bath time a fun time (or just a less stressful one).
CHI Gentle 2 In 1 Dog Shampoo & Conditioner cleans, softens and moistures your pet's coat and makes wash time a breeze. Even better, it's made of mild surfactants, so it won't irritate your dog's eyes.
If you're between professional grooms or aren't prepared for a full tilt bathroom battle royale with your pet, a dry dog shampoo like Pet Head Dry Clean Spray Shampoo can help untangle any scruffy coats, provide a boost of nourishment, and act as a fast, quick and water-free alternative to the full wet bath experience.
A favorite of groomers since 1961, Miracle Care Sterile Eye Wash Pads will help remove dirt, bacteria, tear stains and other unsightly "crusties" that form around your pet's eyes. The pre-soaked pads are also specifically formulated for an irritation-free experience and fit into small bags for day trips and visits to the dog park.
For example, the Ebony Crampto 2-in-1 Pet Bathing Tool for Grooming can be used on puppies or adult dogs. Essentially, you can place this 8.2-foot hose on your bathtub faucet and easily bathe your pup. It's made of high level food-grade soft silicone and combines both sprayer and both scrubber, which means you can give your dog a nice massage while ensuring he gets clean. An added bonus: The upgraded rotary switch design regulates water flow so you can have more control over bath time and reduce your dog's stress.
Once your pup is done with his bath, you can use The Original Dirty Dog Shammy Ultra Absorbent Microfiber Quick Drying Towel with Hand Pockets to dry him off. It easily soaks up water and dries your dog eight times faster than a blow dryer or cotton towel. The one size, 13 x 31", fits all, and it's machine washable.
The Best Grooming Products For Brushing Your Dog's Fur
Like death, taxes, and Thanos, dog shedding is inevitable.
But it's also totally natural and healthy for short-haired dogs and long-haired dogs to release old or damaged fur follicles so don't dread the shed.
Factors such as breed, hair length, weather, season, and coat type (single, double, combination, etc.) will drive the volume of hair a dog sheds but the good news is the right dog brush can alleviate most conditions or at least keep them in check.
Think of the slicker brush as the all-purpose workhorse in your dog de-shedding tool kit.
A good one, like Hertzko's Self-Cleaning Dog & Cat Slicker Brush, will keep your baby's coat sleek and shiny by gently shaking out loose hair, tangles, knots, dander, and trapped dirt. Wire bristles curve slightly to reach deep into the coat without irritating your dog's skin and cleaning is a snap thanks to a retraction button that retracts the bristles in and pushes the fur out. And voila! — you're ready for you're next grooming sesh.
For trouble spots that merit extra care, a specialty tool like a de-matting dog comb or rake can be a lifesaver.
Safari's De-Matting Dog Comb boasts a bevy of rave reviews because its stainless steel construction slices through stubborn mats without tugging on the fur, while the rubberized, anti-slip handle provides pinpoint control and is easy on the groomer's hand.
Fleas are basically the original squatters, living rent-free in your dog's coat. Left unchecked, these freeloaders can trigger dermatitis, skin rashes, and other more serious health conditions. Kick them to the curb, eh, comb, with a flea and tick comb to curb and flare-ups and keep your pupping wagging happily.
Built around extremely fine teeth and an ergonomic handle, Hartz Groomer's Best Flea Comb flicks aways fleas, flea eggs (ewww), and related debri. Even better, it's great for delicate spots around the face and paws.
Round out your anti-shedding arsenal with a ... wait for it ... handy grooming glove (sorry, not sorry). PetFusion Multipurpose Five Finger Dog & Cat Grooming Gloves offer a multitude of benefits to both pet and petter and can be used for grooming, nail clipping, washing, and even trips to the vet.
The Best Grooming Products For Trimming Your Dog's Coat
Everyone loves a good hair day — and dogs are no exception (good coat day?). And while a professional groomer is good for full-blown hair cuts, you can do your part to help your pamper your pooch with the right tools for maintenance trims at home.
Start with a good pair of grooming scissors/shears.
Pet Magasin Dog & Cat Grooming Scissors And Shears come highly recommended for both value and quality. The stainless-steel blades and ultra-fine cutting edge of the scissors make it easy tame the thickest of furs or toughest of tangles, while the serrated shears let you dial in tricky spots around the paws, ears, and noses.
When summer comes around, cordless clippers are perfect for full body fur cuts because they can save time, increase coverage quickly, and ensure an even trim around the whole body.
Wahl's Arco Cordless Pet Clipper Kit cuts through most coat types and comes completes with 5 different blades and snap-on guide combs so it's ideal for dialing in the length of the cut and for multi-dog homes.
The Best Grooming Products For Your Dog's Nail And Paw Care
Dog grooming is a head-to-toe affair. And if shampoos, brushes, and scissors are required for the former, you'll need quality nail clippers and balm to tend to your pup's paw and pad care. Overlooking this part of your dog's grooming regimen can lead to scratchy floors and damaged furniture — or worse yet, scrapped up body parts. Here's what you need then to keep a dog's nails at their optimum length.
Nail clippers for pets come in a variety of forms, but the three most common are scissor, guillotine, and grinder.
Each has benefits and drawbacks and some pups favor one more than the other — it's a matter of experimentation, preference, and temperament. Squirmy pups, for instance, will require more reassurance (or professional care), while patient and trusting types make it easy (or easier), especially as you developed a routine and they figure out what's going on.
Some of the most popular and best-reviewed nail clippers include Millers Forge Nail Clipper With Safety Stop, which are good for nervous dogs because the safety mechanism prevents overcutting, and Coastal Pet's Safari Dog Diamond Nail File, which can be used to help deliver a smooth, salon-quality finish.
Finally, moisturizing isn't just for human hands. Paws pads can be damaged from hot surfaces and exposure to too much sun. Keep chafing and cracking skin at bay with paw balms and hot spot moisturizers.
Two of the best-reviewed products are Bag Balm Pet Moisturizer, which is alcohol-free and formulated to prevent licking, and BioBalm Skin Repair, which is great for dry skin and is waterproof so it won't wash off during a day at the beach or lake.
In the end, while grooming your pup can seem daunting at first, especially for the first time pet parent, the right tools — and a can-do attitude — makes all the difference. As you gain experience, you'll find out what works for your dog and what doesn't. The dog grooming tools collected above are a great starting point for learning more about how to keep your fur buddy happy and healthy.
Did we miss your favorite dog grooming tool or hack? Share it with us in the comments below or at the Cuteness Facebook page!